The women’s basketball team extended its Missouri Valley Conference winning streak to three games with road wins over Southern Illinois and Evansville last week.
The Braves topped SIU 60-48 at Carbondale last Thursday and then traveled to Evansville on Saturday to knock off the Purple Aces by a score of 80-68.
The pair of wins improved the team to 16-6 overall, but did not move them out of fifth place in the Valley, where it holds a record of 7-4.
“I think what we are trying to do is just keep it game-to-game,” coach Paula Buscher said. “These were two good wins on the road, and I think the mentality of our team is just to move on, keep getting better and focus on the next one.”
Senior Monica Rogers led the Braves past the Salukis, putting up 20 points to lead all scorers and grabbing five rebounds. Rogers also was perfect from the line, hitting 10-of-10 free throws in the Bradley win.
In addition to Rogers’ contributions, sophomore Raisa Taylor also added her first career double-double to the win over SIU with 16 points and a career-best 10 boards in her third consecutive start.
“She really gives us another long defender on the floor,” Buscher said. “We gave her the first start at Indiana State because we needed her to guard a specific player, but she has really taken on that role and enjoyed it.”
In last year’s match-up at Southern Illinois, Taylor rattled off a career high 28 points as a freshman.
“When she was being recruited, it came down to either us or Southern for her,” Buscher said. “I think she really likes to step up her game and play well there.”
Southern Illinois managed just 28.8 percent shooting in the game, digging themselves a 32-19 hole by halftime. Things didn’t get much better for the Salukis in the second half, as they were held scoreless for the first four minutes of the period, allowing the Braves to go up as many as 17.
SIU climbed back to within eight points late in the second half, but good free-throw shooting helped lock down the Bradley victory.
The Evansville game saw much of the same for the Braves with another 16-point performance from Taylor and another 12-point victory, but also another large lead that was chipped away to single digits.
Bradley was up as many as 24 points in the game, but after the Purple Aces were able to mount a 20-5 run, that lead was cut to just four halfway through the second half.
“For the most part, I liked how we played in both of those games,” Buscher said. “We got a lot of different people some playing time, which I think will pay off for us down the road.”
Buscher went on to say that although she would have liked to shorten both rallies, she was happy her team showed the resiliency to get defensive stops when they need them and finished the game with a decent margin of victory.
Rogers again led the Braves in scoring against Evansville, putting up 18 points and also grabbing nine rebounds, while sophomore Sonya Harris added a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards.
Bradley’s 16 wins on the season is the most since the 2001-02 campaign, which produced a final record of 16-12.
The Braves will have a number of chances to improve that win total with five of their final seven games being played at home.
The first game is a 7:05 p.m. tip-off against Northern Iowa on Saturday night, which will kick off a three-game home stand.
Bradley is 8-1 on the season when playing at Illinois Central College’s Lorene Ramsey Gymnasium, the site of all five remaining home games.